PARIS — Was Hurricane Sandy caused by climate change?
This was the contention Tuesday of Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, which bore the brunt of the superstorm.
“Anyone who thinks there isn’t a change in weather patterns is denying reality,” he said.
Many climate scientists would agree with Cuomo when it comes to identifying the cause of the record-breaking droughts and floods of recent years.
But when it comes to tropical storms, the experts also say they cannot give a black-or-white answer for one of the most complex issues in meteorology.
Tropical storms are fuelled by warm seas, so intuition says that as ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes — known as typhoons in Asia — should become more frequent and more brutal.
But a clear rise in Earth’s surface temperature since the 1970s has so far failed to engender a similar increase in tropical cyclone numbers, which have remained stable at about 90 per year.
In the Atlantic alone, however, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says major storms have become more frequent and intense since 1995.
The agency also warns that science right now cannot tease out how much of the change should be attributed to natural climate variability, and how much to man-made warming.
As for the future, experts give conflicting or sketchy predictions of what could happen this century, when surface temperatures are predicted to warm two or three degrees Celsius (3.5 to five degrees Fahrenheit).
“There is some evidence to suggest that with climate change we might see stronger wind speeds but that the overall number of tropical cyclones (will show) no change or maybe even go down a little bit,” said Tom Mitchell, head of climate change at Britain’s Overseas Development Institute.
Serge Planton, head of climate research at French weather forecasting service Meteo France, explained why the picture is so fuzzy.
“It’s a very complex phenomenon,” he said.
“A cyclone depends not only on the sea surface temperature, but also on the structure of the winds at every layer of the atmosphere. This means it does not respond in a simple, linear fashion to climate change.”
When it comes to storm surge, there seems to be more scientific consensus that climate change’s impact is clear.
Sandy’s swells were entirely consistent with scenarios sketched by the UN’s Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a report on extreme weather events, published in March, contended Mitchell.
“What the IPCC said there is with sea level rising a little bit already and with the potential for stronger storms, we are likelier to see surges increasing.”
Mitchell was a coordinating lead author in the report.
“At some level, we can point to the climate change signal in that,” he said.
“The examples that we are seeing in New York today of very considerable storm surges are directly in line with the predictions of the IPCC.”
The IPCC report had said it was also likely that tropical cyclones will increase rainfall this century, and placed a heavy emphasis on preparedness to reduce the risk to lives and property.
Obama’s chief economist warns of ‘a very high chance’ Trump’s trade war could cause 2020 recession
The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama warned of "a very high chance" of Trump's trade war with China resulting in a recession -- "just in time for 2020."
Austan Goolsbee was interviewed by MSNBC's John Heilemann on Friday after the DJIA closed down over 600 points after the trade war escalated on Friday.
"Just give us, if you would, Austan, your sense of what has unfolded today and how bad it is," Heilemann asked.
"Yes, it’s terrible, I'm phoning from a bunker as we speak," Goolsbee replied.
"There hasn’t been a day like this in a very long time. Yes, the markets sell a lot but the fact we’re going to have an escalating trade war, the president of the United States is publicly declaring the head of the Fed an enemy of the state and, oh, by the way, 40% of the Amazon is on fire and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being treated for pancreatic cancer," he continued. "If this is on a Friday, it makes it bad for Monday."
Trump responds to China raising tariffs — by raising tariffs on over half a trillion dollars in Chinese goods
After US markets tanked on Friday, President Donald Trump dramatically escalated his trade war with China.
"For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on trade, intellectual property theft, and much more. Our country has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year to China, with no end in sight," Trump tweeted.
"Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of fair and balanced trade that it has become a great burden to the American taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen," he argued.
MSNBC anchor blasts Trump’s ‘lunacy’ after ‘a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling’
The New York Stock Exchange closed down over 600 points on Friday as President Donald Trump's trade war with China escalated.
MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said, "we’re hours away for the president taking off to the G7 summit in Bairritz, France, where allies are bracing for the Trump-fueled mayhem that is now 100% certain to ensue, with Trump like a drunken traveler in the departure lounge about to take a trip that he dreads, already sewing global chaos, days-long public meltdown typically moved from words to actions."
"Donald Trump beginning this day with a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling, closing down more than 600 points today and escalating his trade war with China with these norm-shattering, power-abusing words in this tweet," he said, putting the tweet on-screen.